Office of Public Affairs

5/23/22 — New Report Looks at Hate Crime in Maine


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/23/22


Press Contacts:

Hannah Brintlinger, Maine Statistical Analysis Center, Research Analyst, hannah.brintlinger@maine.edu, 207-228-8333

George Shaler, Maine Statistical Analysis Center, Senior Research Associate, gshaler@maine.edu, 207-274-9299

Jack McDevitt, Institute on Race and Justice, Northeastern University, j.mcdevitt@northeastern.edu, 617-373-3482


New Report Looks at Hate Crime in Maine


PORTLAND, Maine – The University of Southern Maine’s Maine Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) has released a comprehensive report on hate and bias crimes that occurred in this state over 10 years. 

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, found a 49% decrease in hate and bias motivated crimes in Maine reported to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) program from 2008 to 2017. However, the report's authors believe at least some of the decrease was due to untrained agencies not categorizing incidents as hate crimes. More recently, hate crime figures have increased. 

The report issues several recommendations, including: enhance training for local law enforcement, enhance the hate crime tracking and reporting systems, update local law enforcement record management systems to include variables that flag hate and bias crimes, and update the annual Crime in Maine reports to include hate crime clearance rate and arrest information.  

A total of 445 hate and bias crimes in Maine were reported to the FBI's UCR program from 2008 to 2017. Of these crimes, the Maine SAC was able to compile outcome information for 414 cases for this study.

Key Findings: 

• Half of the reported cases were motivated by the victims’ perceived race/ethnicity/ancestry; 
• At 38%, anti-Black or African American sentiments were the most frequently reported bias motivation; 
• Intimidation was the most frequently reported offense type at 44%;
• Only 28% of the hate and bias crimes reported to the FBI over this period resulted in an arrest, 66% did not result in arrests, and the remaining 6% of cases could not be identified or located by local law enforcement; 
• Only 5% of hate and bias crimes that involved destruction/damage/vandalism of property resulted in an arrest;
• The decentralized nature of hate crimes investigation and prosecution in Maine makes the tracking of outcomes in hate crime cases very complicated and difficult. 

“These findings point to the challenges in investigating these types of crimes,” said lead author Hannah Brintlinger of USM’s Maine Statistical Analysis Center.  

The Maine SAC worked with several criminal justice stakeholders across the state to determine arrest rates and outcomes for hate and bias crimes in Maine that were reported by law enforcement to the FBI’s UCR program. In Maine, if a crime is considered to possibly be motivated by hate or bias, the law enforcement agency that responded to the crime is required to document, investigate, and refer the case to the Maine Attorney General’s (AG) Office.  The Maine AG’s Office uses the law enforcement’s reports to investigate the case and determine if sufficient evidence exists to file a complaint against the accused under the Maine Civil Rights Act (MCRA).  

In addition, the district attorney (DA) can bring criminal proceedings against the accused for offenses committed during the perpetration of the crime, including the crime of interference with an individual’s civil and constitutional rights. 

In just over a quarter (26%) of the incidents, the state’s district attorneys brought criminal proceedings against the perpetrators for charges associated with the hate/bias crime.  Simple assault and aggravated assault cases were accepted for criminal prosecution at a higher rate than intimidation, even though intimidation was the most frequently reported offense type.  

It has taken the Maine SAC more than two-and-a-half years to compile its information. It considered only cases from 2017 or earlier to allow time for cases to be investigated and brought to trial. 

A more detailed explanation of the Maine SAC's recommendations can be found in the report here: https://justiceresearch.usm.maine.edu/.

 

Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.